I was watching a brief clip of the interview that Oprah conducted with one of my favorite teachers/authors of a subject near and dear to my heart: ”life, the Universe and everything.’. His birth name is Richard Alpert, but he is known as Ram Dass (which is Sanskrit for ‘servent of God’). A nearly life long student of exploring both the outer reaches and inner well of the Divine, his books have titles such as “Be Here Now”, “Grist For The Mill”, “How Can I Help?” His spiritual journey brought him from his birth religion of Judaism, to Atheism, to Hinduism and the teachings of his guru Neem Karoli Baba. His experiences and friendship with Timothy Leary and psychedelics-to-acheive-enlightenment are legendary, but these days, he is embraced as a man who has used his spiritual wisdom to move through a life changing experience that occurred in 1997 when he was, as he poetically phrases it “stroked by God” and immersed in what he has come to refer to as ‘fierce grace’ and made a movie by that name to catalogue his journey.
I have had the extreme blessing of interviewing Ram Dass three times in the past twenty some years and he holds a special place in my heart, since I met my husband Michael at a lecture Ram Dass gave in Philadelphia in 1986 in a rendezvous that seemed pre-ordained.
In this interview with the queen of daytime tv, Ram Dass shares what he perceives as the difference between belief and faith. To illustrate; he points to his head for the former and his heart for the latter. My perspective is the same. So many times in my life, when I have faced struggles and pain, I have questioned my beliefs, but never my faith. That has held steady. I challenge my beliefs daily, actually. I ask myself “What would someone have to believe in order to be having the experiences I am having?” The answers then line up in front of me….”Oh there you are, self doubt. Hello, fear, what are you trying to tell me?” An inner dialogue then ensues. Even in the midst of the seemingly darkest times in my life, with the illnesses and subsequent deaths of my husband and my parents, I knew for certain that God/Goddess/All That Is had my back. Never did I ask “why me?” since it was a laughable question and I could hear the munchkin voices singing in my ear “because, because, because, because, because…”
The most profound line for me in the clip you are about to watch is this : “In the moment is where you see God.” When I immerse myself in the here and now, present moment, regardless of how stunningly beautiful or painful, I am feeling that connection. It is always there; in my perspective, God doesn’t go anywhere. I have been the one who had taken a step away from the awareness of the Source of Love.
Interview with Ram Dass New Visions Magazine “Still Here Now” 2002